Wednesday, December 24, 2014


'Tis the season...

for yuletide carols, candycanes, pointy trees, big bows and family.. lots of family.

I saw a beautiful video called #sharethegift that pleaded for us to turn back to the humble, true meaning of Christmas.  To remember Christ and share His message.  Through love, peace, hope and charity we can share that first great gift.

                         -john 3:16

Ever since I first saw this video, my mind has been racing.  How can I share the gift?  How can I spread the peace and love this season?

I had grand plans of holiday tunes marched around town, baking to the beat of my own drum and "helping elves" spreading love not mayhem.  Then, with a week's notice I decided to move.

"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."  Buddy was on to something, and usually we pack up the clan and sing our carols brightly.  But, being in a new town full of new people, our carols were lost.

Plan B, blissfully baking was foiled when, after many a box was unloaded, no Kitchenaide revealed itself.  It held hostage many of its other baking buddies, leaving me with no means to create culinary master-pieces.  

I came up with this lovely idea of little elves doing good deeds and spreading cheer through acts of kindness, but didn't know where to start in a new land of unfamiliar people.  The thought of my 5-year-old sweeping a strangers house made me a little uneasy.  

SO WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?  What monumental thing do I have at my disposal to share this great gift?

I was at a loss.

Then, at church, I heard these words:

"There is no story quite as beautiful, or which can stir the soul of the humble quite to the depths, as this glorious story can of the birth of our Redeemer.  No words that man may utter can embellish or improve or add to the eloquence of its humble simplicity.  It never grows old no matter how often told, and the telling of it is by far too infrequent in the homes of men."
                 -President Joseph Fielding Smith

Let me repeat that last part again, the part that really hit home for me:  "the telling of it is by far too infrequent.."


Tell the story and share the gift.

Conveniently, I was able to put together a lovely nativity shoot last year, which is perfect as I use pictures, the New Testament and my favorite Christmas Carols to recount this precious tale...

It starts long ago, in a faraway land.  A young girl, of humble means and a true heart discovers her glorious fate-

 An angel of the Lord reveals to her that she would bear the great Christ child.  That this young woman would mother the "King of Kings," the Savior of the world.  As I ponder this revelation given her, and as I hold my own baby boy in my arms, it is hard not to wonder what she thought in these moments.  Could she possibly know the importance of her role, the gravity of her choice?

"Mary did you know that your baby boy will some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you
(Mary Did You Know, Chirstmas song)

Of course, life is not meant to be endured alone.  Neither was Mary's calling that of an individual sacrifice.  At her side, though it must have been hard and confusing at times, was her faithful husband.  He physically helped carry her load as he led her to Bethlehem and stood in to be the earthly father to this heavenly child.

Even on the Lord's errand, we are not freed from trials and tribulation.  Heavenly Father promises great blessings to those who endure, but endure we must.  Agreeing to parent the Christ-child did not bring with it luxuries untold, the King of Kings was not to be born in a mansion of gold.  On the contrary, this couple who sacrificed so much would be turned away at every corner.

We all reach points in our lives where the trials and burdens feel unbearable, where we feel that each turn brings us further from where we want to be, where the world beats its hand against us, where we feel we have nowhere else to turn.

"We need to know that in spite of all the troubles and ills which befall us, still the Lord is governing in the affairs of the earth and that if we keep His commandments and are true and faithful to His laws, He will bless us here and now and reward us with eternal life in His kingdom in due corse.."  (President Joseph Fielding Smith)

"Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus!" (Neal A Maxwell)

"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass."

May we find our stable, our manger, our lowly and humble state as this couple did.  There, we will find the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes.  There we will find our salvation.

"I now pray that at this Christmas Season, and at all times, we may center our faith in the Son of God and gain for ourselves that peace which passeth understanding."  (President Joseph Fielding Smith)

"O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn'
Fall on your knees, O hear the angels' voices
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night divine, O night, O night divine"
(O Holy Night, Christmas Song)

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, 
keeping watch over their flock by night.

"And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the 
Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you 
good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of 
David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

"And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the 
babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of 
the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.

"And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, 
the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem,
 and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

"And they came with haste, and found Mary, 
and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger."
      (Luke 2:8-16)

"These were humble men who had not lost the faith of their fathers, whose hearts had not become hardened..." (President Joseph Fielding Smith)

Have our hearts become hardened with the harsh realities of the world?  Have we laid down our staff and wandered off alone, losing sight of the great light ahead of us?

Far to the East, the light of the great star beamed as a sign to the wise men that the Christ child was born.  Hope was restored and the eternities of mankind was to be saved.  

Wise men still seek Him. 
The humble adore Him. 
Hope is reborn, and new life is restored
To all who believe. 
(From the Christmas song, Touched by a Child)

Bearing the finest gifts of their time, the wise men rode to meet the great Savior of the world.  As these were, great tributes to Him, Christ does not require lavish gifts.  But rather, gifts of the heart.  The gift of a humble and contrite spirit.  The gift of a broken and changed heart, turned to Him.  

Seek Him.

Find Him

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn'
Fall on your knees, O hear the angels' voices
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night divine, O night divine,
(O, Holy Night)

He is the Christ.

He is Christmas.

He is the Gift.

I hope you enjoyed my telling of this great and humble story.  I wish you the very best this Christmas.  May you enjoy peace and love.  May you be filled with the spirit of Christ.

I challenge you to #tellthestory  Whether that means you share my rendition, you read it from the bible, warm and cozy by the fire, or by your own words.  Tell it.  

Spread the word.

Spread the gift.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, October 31, 2014

Candy Overload!!!

Looky Looers!

It may be cloudy, you may get wet, 
But make it a night your kids won't forget!

I happened to pick up the CUTEST umbrella at Forever 21 last month (red with white polka dots and frills), so the "cold doesn't bother me, anyway!"

What are your plans this Halloween??  Will you brave the bad weather or snuggle and watch Hocus Pocus instead?  Or are you the type that would rather mingle with friends than door knock with strangers?  

We like to do a little bit of everything.  We ALWAYS attend our church Halloween party decked in a family themed costume.  I know, my poor tortured children!  On Halloween we like to hit the streets downtown and grab candy from local shops then stop at a few local doorsteps of our fav friends.

It doesn't sound like a lot, but we still end up with LOADS of candy.  I'm talking chocolate coma for days status.  And, being the type of mother who enjoys her sanity, the responsible mother I am, I just cannot justify letting the crew gobble that all down!

So, what's a mom to do???

Well, first off, we let the kids choose a certain amount of candy to keep (10 pieces, 20 pieces, whatever we feel we can handle).  They then place the remainder in brown bags and leave them on our doorstep for Glenda the Good Witch to collect that night while they are sleeping.


I know, here's the best part, sweet Glenda does not leave them empty-handed!  In return, she leaves them a little Halloween present to enjoy.  Some little toy or item they've been wanting.  


Oh please, have you met my husband??  Waste not, want not!  Here is where the creativity really comes in!  I have found several ways to use up that extra candy you have lying around from halloween and put it to good use!

First up, Reece's Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes----
Make chocolate cake box cupcakes, and as they come out of the oven, place a PB cup, upside down on top.  Them melt in perfectly and will score you some serious mom points!  Top with some peanut butter cream cheese frosting and you are in business, mama!

Next, how about COOKIES!!
I take any chocolate candy- m&ms, candy bars, whoppers, whatever, and crunch them up.  I then replace chocolate chips for these candy chips in my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  BUENO!

Yep, you read that right, you can use your left over candy to make frosting, and it's pretty amazing!
You just melt down the candy bars and they become the main ingredient in this genius frosting.  Check out the recipe via Betty, here!

Or, just crunch them up and put them over some ice cream!  Whatever you choose to do, know that your Halloween Candy can become a thing of culinary genius, instead of a dental nightmare come November!

I hope you enjoyed this walk down the candy isle!  Stay warm and dry this Halloween and enjoy a night of dressing up!!

What did you and yours dress up as?  What do you do with all of  your candy??  I'd love to hear all of your ideas!!

Until next time, here's looking at you!!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

4 Months New

If you've been counting, and I'm sure you have (because I'm sure you have time to calculate the age of every living child), then you know that today marks the 4th month of my son's life!


I know, you're probably wondering what I'm doing- I am not one of those moms that takes pictures with a stuffed animal at each milestone.  I wish I was.  But, alas, I am not.

In fact, on this day, I am posting my son's 3 month pictures.  Which, to be honest, is actually pretty good for my own family portraits.  I have pictures of my kids from YEARS back that have yet to be edited.  My husband is constantly teasing me- telling me I'm the plumber with leaky pipes.  I totally am.

But, here's the thing.  After I spend hours editing another lovely session, all I want to do is SPEND TIME with my family, not look at them on a screen.  As beautiful as their pictures are, the real thing is RIGHT in front of me.  And, Kenton's double chin will not be so doubly cute forever.  He will grow, and if I'm nose-deep in my computer, looking at the 2D version, I will miss it.

So, I'll take the leaky pipes.  Leaky pipes, to me, equal a mom who is spending time doing much more worth-while things.

However, sometimes the stars align, and I get to do both.  For those of you who don't get to see the real-life 3D version, here is my sweet Kenton:

Those eyes.  They make my heart melt!  They are just the perfect shade of blue.  Gush, I know totally biased and obsessed mom over here!

Have I mentioned my TOTAL obsession with antique clothing?  Or my latest obsession with IG shopping- it's horrible, don't even start!  Well, these loves collided with this vintage romper and I'm obsessed!  For $2 I got this beautiful piece delivered to my door!  EEEK!  

If you're wondering how you can get fab pieces, follow my new instagram: @lookyloostyle.  I will be posting fabulous finds, great deals, and even selling some of the portrait-worthy dubs from my own family!

I know I gushed about his eyes, but really, my most favorite thing about Kent is his nose.  Random, I know!  But, it's just so cute and has the perfect and turns up at such a cute angle.  

A typical day in Kenton's life: kissed, cuddled and loved on to no end!  Each of my other children is just as obsessed as me.  From the moment he wakes up to the second those lids shut, someone is canoodling this sweet baby.  And he wouldn't have it any other way!  Kent LOVES to look deeply into our eyes and tell us all of his deepest darkest secrets.  

I'm sorry for the lack of faces.  We did not steal the mannequins from Old Navy, those are the girls we are fostering.  I am hoping, at some point to adopt them- then you will get your fill of their beautiful faces!!  Until then, I have to keep you guessing! ;)

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my life and my little man!!  

Have a wonderful day and be sure to check back in later this week for another Senior Session!  

Here's Looking at YOU!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Awesome Ashley

Hello Friends!!

Senior Season is wrapping up, and I'm over here like "oh ya, I shot an amazing rep shoot!"

I didn't want to slide completely out of Senior Season without showing you the magic that happened that day.  There was pampering, presents, hair, make-up and photographs- there were TONS of photographs!  

Here is Ashley.  She is smart, beautiful, and- good with children?  It's not what you're thinking!  As part of her class, Ashley helps run a preschool!  A preschool that MY kids attend!  That was where I met Ashley- a sweet smile and kind hello, EVERYDAY.  I remember wondering, "wow, there really are people who are happy EVERY day!"  I was so excited to work with her and capture that wonderful smile on camera.  

What do you think?!

Hair/Make-up by the talented Jessica Munoz of Twist Studio Spa
Styling by Cindy McCauley
Sign (in pond) by Sign, Sealed & Delivered
Jeweled Hair Accessory by 3 Little Birds Boutique

Thank you for stopping by!!  Be sure and show some love on our fan page if you liked what you saw!!

See you right back here later this week for the final installment of my Senior Rep Trio!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stunning Shanna

Well, here we are AGAIN!

If you're wondering, my last post was about my birth story- FOUR MONTHS AGO.

Yeah, well, let's just say blogging is not among my most notable talents.

Alas, I am here now and ready to show you the pure gorgeousness that was our LookyLoo Senior 2015 Rep shoot this year!

First up, Shanna.

Stats:  Hair/Makeup by Jessica Munoz of Twist Studio
           Styling by Cindy McCauley of Looky Loo Photography
           Location Harmony, CA

She is not only beautiful, but amazing talented and smart.  She plays the piano beautifully, dreams of becoming a Dr one day, and keeps herself busy with an array of extra-curricular activities.

Basically, the perfect Senior!  ;)

Isn't she fabulous?!?

Thank you, Shanna for being one of my 2015 Reps!  If you would like gorgeous LookyLoo photos like these, find Shanna and ask her for one of her rep cards!  You will receive $20 and a free 8x10 print!  

Until next time, my friends!
Here's Looking at YOU!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust! A Baby Story

My Baby Story.

In my world, I learn lessons in the most peculiar ways, at the most interesting times and from just about anyone.  Even a teeny tiny little baby.

This story starts, as most do, at the beginning.  There I was: four kids under 5 (go ahead, read that line again), a husband in grad school, and in the middle of busy season.  That's when I realized the nausea combined with extreme hunger in the middle of the night was not just inconvenient, it was a sign.  I was pregnant.  

Awesome.  One year prior, I would have given anything to be pregnant.  Anything.  At this point, however, the only words that ran through my mind were this:

(frantically, at a full scream... shrill, even)

Panicked, I thought of all of the reasons this was impossible.  I counted out the months and came to a due date that was completely inconceivable.  It landed our baby right in the middle of my brother's wedding, smack dab in the mess of my husbands last few weeks of grad school, and other horrifically unreasonable circumstances that I hadn't even thought of yet.

So, Why?

Fast forward a few months, second quarter of grad school, still knee-deep in toddler mayhem.  My husband took a 3-month internship in San Francisco.  SAN FRANCISCO.  Yeah, why not?  So, my 6-month pregnant self was now expected to take care of our crazy crew and be hopelessly pregnant BY MYSELF 5 days a week.  All that ran through my mind was:

(I know, I'm pathetic)

As the time approached for this sweet baby boy to be born, I tangled in constant arguments civil disagreements with my OB about the upcoming arrival.  He thought I should put my baby-having on hold while he went on vacation, most likely sentencing me to a C-section.  What did I think?

(I know, I know, people do it all the time- but, keep in mind, I had 4 other children to care for as my husband was knee-deep in homework and research, we had to move, oh, and I was in a crazy adoption battle- long recovery was not something I could foresee working out for me)

As I've mentioned before, I am an avid Grey's Anatomy watcher... AKA DR McCauley.  When the world turns it's back on me, I head to my MD roots and hit the internet.  (all medical professionals can stop cringing now, it all works out in the end).  My search field read: self-induce naturally.  
Pineapple, check
walking, check
sitting cross-legged and circling, check (hard to explain but totally works)
spicy food, check

Nothing.  All of my medical research was getting me nowhere.  In my complete desperation I tried the last thing on the list: castor oil.  If you've never added this stuff to your Jamba Juice, you're missing out.  On having a baby, that is!  I went from desperate to in labor in a matter of HOURS.  Yes, I went from complaining about not having a baby to HOLDING my baby in less than 24 hours.  When I put my mind to something, well, watch out! 

Contractions, pacing my bathroom, rushing to the hospital, epidural, blah blah blah.

So, there I was, ready to have a baby 5am.  

Still ready at 10am.

Yep, they promised me it would be today at 3pm.

Keeping in mind that not all births are the same, I ignored it as we sailed passed 13 hours, which had been my longest labor thus far.  5pm.

Surely there's a baby in there somewhere, right?  7pm.

Then, my world came to a stop.  Pain shot into my back and pretty much every part of my body.  If you missed the small print, I HAD an epidural.  Pain was not allowed, or so I thought.  As I begged for some pain meds, an explanation, ANYTHING really, the nurse informed me that my baby had situated himself in such a position that he BLOCKED the epidural.  Are you kidding me?!  I turned to my husband, and squealed:


Well, if you've seen my recent posts, I'm sure you've noticed the handsome little boy I gave birth to.  24 hours of labor, excruciating back labor at the end, but there he was at 8:30pm.
    I hate being wrong.  Hate it.  But, in this moment, I was 100% wrong.  Not only could I do it, but I wasn't half bad.  I managed to calm myself so completely between pushes that I would almost fall asleep and was so efficient at pushing that I got him out in HALF the time of my last son.  (my competitive side was thrilled)

Then, my son came out.  And every ounce of pain left my body as I laid eyes on him.

i CAN do this.

As the pain washed away, so did my fears.  

Three full days without the chaos of my life gave me time to reflect on the last nine months.  This wasn't the only situation I had been wrong about.  I had lost faith.  In myself.  I had lost trust in the plan.  There is no magical pixie dust that makes life easy or trials go away.  Sometimes we struggle through.  One day at a time.  But we do get through.  As I searched those last months, I saw strength.  I saw endurance.  I saw someone who kept going and made things happen.  

It's funny how much I worried about having a fifth child.  I worried that he would interrupt our little family, I worried that I didn't have room for him- in our home or in my heart.  

I could not have been more wrong.  Kenton wasn't a mistake, he wasn't the extra piece to an already finished puzzle.  Kenton is the glue that pieced us all together.  

As we have spent the last couple of months ooh-ing and ahh-ing over his every flinch, I have realized how more in love we are.  As a whole, our family has been brought together by this tiny little man.  

He is our pixie dust.

Sometimes we go through life not even realizing something is missing.  That's how I was 11 months ago.  There was a little man waiting to come to me, and I didn't even know then just how much I needed him, how much I already loved him.

I'm sure you can see why coming back from maternity leave has been slow for me.  I am absolutely in love, again!  

Well, here we are, at the end of my story.  A story of birth, and triumph, and, of course, love.

What do you think?  Has life ever seemed overwhelming to you?  How do you get through?

Thank you for stopping by!